for people who love the littlest dairy goats
I've been going back and forth in my head about vaccines. Is there any scientific evidence that they even work in goats? I talked to a vet who was really pushing them and when I questioned their necessity and said that I was not sure I was comfortable with them, she very rudely responded "Well I went to vet school and I'm not comfortable with NOT giving it." Needless to say I will not be using her for my goat care (she also told me I need to be deworming once a month rotating with Safeguard and Ivermectin, which I know is a big NO-NO). I just want concrete information about the risks and benefits of the vaccines but I can't seem to find any info on any testing that was done. When I google it all I get are opinions and schedules not actual data.
They have gotten a bad name, partly as a result of the "measles vaccine causes autism" scandal. I say scandal because that claim arose in a 1998 paper published in the 'Lancet' and that paper was later shown to be fraudulent. The problems arising from parents who don't immunise their children are being seen here in Australia, with child hooping-cough cases on the rise and community outbreaks of measles.
Do vaccines work? Think of the fact that millions and millions of people died in the past from smallpox. Today, thanks to vaccinations, that disease no longer exists. But for religious and associated political problems in a couple of countries, for example Pakistan, polio is almost eliminated as well.
If you want to watch your goats die needlessly, don't vaccinate. The problems with vaccinating are far, far outweighed by the beneficial effects. Admittedly, this is my personal opinion, but years ago, I saw a 14 year old boy with end stage tetanus. He was dying, and was arched like a warped board, jaws and muscles stiff, and I chose to accept vaccinations over the other alternative.
People have very passionate opinions on this subject, but like almost everything, there is a middle ground. I know you don't "want to watch your goats die needlessly". Do you have a closed herd? Are there other goat herds near you? Those are things to consider when deciding whether or not vaccinating is right for you.
There isn't a lot of any scientific information about goats because they're not a highly commercial type of livestock. Therefore, not a lot of money in doing extended studies of their health needs. It's getting better though, as more people are choosing them for dairy and meat.
Sorry your vet was so rude. I've worked for vets before; they're usually much better with animals than they are with people. ;)
I really hope the ONLY vaccine your vet was trying to push on you was CDT. That is the only one that anyone recommends routinely. Other vaccines are only recommended in herds that actually have the problem.
For example, if your goats have sore mouth, then you might want to vaccinate for sore mouth because it would cause a small lesion wherever you vaccinate, and your goats wouldn't get the bigger, nastier version where they have sores all over their mouths, ears, udders, genitals, and anywhere else that they don't have hair. On the other hand, if you do not have sore mouth on your farm already, if you start vaccinating for it, then you will have it on your farm and will have to continue vaccinating or watch your goats get sore mouth. Sore mouth, itself, doesn't kill goats. It can, however, lead to death by starvation in kids sometimes, if the sores make their mouths so sore that they don't nurse.
Efficacy of vaccines varies tremendously from one vaccine to another. As for whether CDT works, I don't have any studies to quote, but I know quite a few people who have had goats die from enterotoxemia (caused by clostridium C or D), including some that died within a couple weeks of being vaccinated. I'm not saying that the vaccine caused their death, but it certainly didn't save them. Vets often recommend a booster (for the tetanus part) whenever a goat is injured, which leads me to think that they have little confidence in its efficacy. Many of the people who've had vaccinated goats die, have increased the number of vaccines far beyond what the manufacturer recommends, which is once a year. I've seen protocols on people's websites that say they vaccinate 2 or 3 times a year because they don't think once a year works, and I've seen some that vaccinate kids 4 times, which is twice as many as what the manufacturer recommends.
We quit vaccinating about 10 years ago and have only lost one goat to enterotoxemia and none to tetanus since then. The one that was lost to enterotoxemia was caused because of a feeding error. An intern picked up freshly scythed grass in the morning and put it into our little hay wagon and let it sit there all day. We later learned that it had started to heat up during the day and apparently started growing some nasty little buggers. Personally I felt really good that only one goat became ill, as the whole herd was eating the same thing, which probably means that most of my herd is naturally immune. The general recommendation for a vaccinated herd is that if one comes down with enterotoxemia, you give all the goats a booster because whatever caused the one to get sick might also make the others sick.
Perhaps I should have specified that I was only referring to goat vaccines in this instance. I don't think goat's get small pox or whooping cough so I don't feel that those types of examples are very helpful.
I was more looking for any studies done on GOAT vaccines because there doesn't seem to be any. I am very careful with the feeding of my goats so I don't feel that Clostridium is a real threat. I keep the tetanus antitoxin handy "just in case" but if I have to inject them with the vaccines 4 times a year to make them effective then I don't really see the point in vaccinating at all. I don't have a closed herd at this point but the CD&T doesn't protect against diseases transmitted by other goats anyway.
The vet was only pushing the CDT. She refused to write me a health certificate for the show unless I did a full check up with fecal and CDT and she wanted to charge me $127 per goat. I felt like that was way too high and after she was rude to me I decided to find another vet. The second vet said that the health certificate is basically just to make sure that the goat doesn't have any outward signs of illness or CL abscesses. FL is a certified TB and Brucellosis free state so those tests are not required for shows here.
Yes I thought as much. The second vet charged me $30 for a health cert which I felt was much more reasonable.
my I find I get concerned about shots and worming also. I think some of the things are overdone in animals and humans.
This is what I am doing (my own decision) and so far things are fine. I give CD&T to babies. 1cc SQ at 4 weeks and 1cc at 8 weeks. (or close to that time) I have ND and a vet made this recommendation to me. I get so many lumps at the injection site on my big girls that I haven't done them for several years. Still weighing my decision and if I will do it. I keep the tetnus antitoxin and the Cd antitoxin on hand in case I need it.
I do my own fecal tests but if there is a question or problem I have the vet do one to make sure my results were right. I only worm if needed and that isn't very often. Maybe a couple of times a year on some , once on others. I have seen that you should worm after kidding but I have been testing my girls this year and the two that have kidded have no issues with worms so why would I give them something so toxic. I am thinking that I will test the day after, the week after and then just keep an eye on them. Worming once a month sounds like overdone.
Your vet doesn't sound very helpful. I am lucky and have a vet that discusses things with me and offers his view and why his decision but is also honest enough to say that he thinks I know more about goats than him because I am hands on every day. He has told me our animals look healthier and happier than most he ever sees so to keep up with things the way I do. I think it is kind of hard to get concrete info. - everyone has a different idea.
Also I do not show - basically my animals have no contact with others so aren't exposed to as much.